An elderly Glendale man wired at least $5,000 to scammers in Mississippi in a common ruse that promises a sweepstakes win if the victim sends money to cover taxes up front.
Glendale police spokesman St. Bob Catlett would not identify the victim other than to say he was an older man from Frederick Lane who "is extremely embarrassed that he fell for the scams."
Police received three calls from the man, saying first that he had been contacted by scammers claiming to be from Publisher's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes. They told the man to wire $4,500 to an address in Biloxi to cover up-front taxes.
Police said a teller at a local bank recognized the scam and called police, who persuaded the resident not to wire the money.
The next day, police said, the man called again to police again, reporting that "on two previous occasions, he wire-transferred in excess of $5,000 to an unknown person in Biloxi."
The scammers called the older man once again on Saturday; they hung up when the man said he would call police.
"Our office receives maybe 10 to 15 calls a day on phony sweepstakes, but most people do not bite," said Bill Smith, trade practices investigator with the Better Business Bureau in St. Louis. He said this case "is not typical, because of the amount of money it appears was lost.